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The Boston Phoenix Diary Of A Sex Change

After nearly two years of hormones, anxiety, and longing to be called "sir," an FTM says: "I'm finally able to be me."

By Anonymous

NOVEMBER 17, 1997:  I never identified as a girl. I was always a boy and still am. When I was 10, my mother and Mrs. G. took me clothes shopping. Mrs. G. took me to the boys' department to try on coats intended for her sons. My broad shoulders, she said, made it possible for me to try on boys' coats, and based on how they fit me, she'd be able to tell how they'd fit her sons. I liked the coats, brown corduroy with hoods. I liked being told I had broad shoulders like a boy and that I could pass for a boy. I was often mistaken for a boy, but I didn't think it was a mistake.

Now I'm old enough to be a man, and all I want is to be seen as a man. I remember coming out as queer 10 years after my straight peers had begun dating. Well, now I'm coming out again. I feel like I stalled out on my boyhood at age 12. And I've re-emerged and I'm 13 again. I have so much to learn. Being a 13-year-old boy in a 29-year-old female body identifying as an adult is difficult, but not impossible, to maneuver.

My palms are sweating.

November 18, 1995

I just ran down the stairs with the trash and chatted with the garbage collectors. Will I ever be able to hang out and just be one of the guys?

When I came out as a lesbian, I feared losing everything, but I ended up losing nothing but the fear. Now I feel like I'm back where I started from. But maybe I'm really just coming to grips with some gender variance. And maybe I could never really pass in the straight world. How could I? And who would want to be with me?

F. posed that question while reading the Gender Nation article about gay FTMs: who would be with whom after transition?

The FTM couldn't really be with a straight woman, right? Or a lesbian?

And as she was pondering this, I felt the answer for me: who I would be with was F., who identifies as bisexual.

F. once told me I'm her boy-woman. But she doesn't call me anything anymore. She doesn't call me by my given name, she doesn't call me by my nickname, she doesn't call me "sir," she doesn't call me "honey." She did once say, "You're a babe," and pinned me against the wall and kissed me.

December 8, 1995

Pigeons are at my bird feeder. I didn't want pigeons, but I guess they're birds.

I went to C. and J.'s tree-trimming party last Saturday and spent $80 on stuff from the hardware store, including a glue gun, but I have no idea what I'm going to do with the glue gun. I don't have a hammer or a flathead screwdriver, but I have a glue gun. Whatever.

December 10, 1995

Here I am, alone on my love seat. F. called on Thursday and said she got her HIV test results. She's negative. I'm very glad. Obviously. And relieved.

We spoke on Friday -- she called at the office at the end of the day. It was good to talk with her. I've really missed her. I know she has a lot of work to do between now and the end of the semester and then exams, which she says she's not too worried about, but I know better.

We also talked a bit more about FTM stuff that I've learned about this week -- testosterone and how it changes you. She seemed genuinely interested, as she has in other conversations about this.

But I wonder if it's just another titillating topic to her. She must wonder why I'm interested in it, other than a need to know in order to be a more well-rounded queer. I mean, does she think I'm finding this out so I know a bunch of trivia, or does she get it? That I'm trying to find out because that's the direction I'm heading in? She must know.

December 23, 1995

I cried this morning, just now. But only for a minute or so. I guess I was crying about being alone. But this is how it is.

Last night I shaved my sideburns again. Per H.'s suggestion, I had shaved them on Monday. And trimmed my hair so it's not so pouffy. But last night I brought the razor not just down that inch next to my ear, but all the way to my jaw. And then I just thought, what's stopping me from shaving my whole face? Nothing, really.

It's not as if I have anything to shave, but I thought I'd like to see and feel what it's like. And it felt fine, not at all out of the ordinary. We'll see about stubble, I guess.

Perhaps I'm kidding myself, and I'll never pass as a man. Just as the guys in the [FTM support] group said of themselves. And it may be my own warped sense of self, but except for V. and Y., those guys just look like dykes to me. And act the way I think dykes act. V. and Y. act like fags. And then there's me. And I guess I have some fag mannerisms, but I'm certainly not dykey-acting. Or I at least don't think I act that way.

When K. and W. said they've been on hormones, I just about did a double take. I guess not knowing what they looked like before doesn't really help, but if that's what they look like now, after months of testosterone, I wonder.

January 5, 1996

I told F. that I was doing something about my "gender issues" and let her know I'm transsexual and not just gender queer. Her response was tender, honest, and sincere. I felt safe and I know I scared her with my hesitancy to talk, but I wanted to say it in the right way. I felt the wall between us, one I hadn't really realized was there, come down. She told me not to do anything crazy and to do it the healthy way. I agreed to that.

Our talks have greatly improved. Sexually, we have had more and more intensity and that has been very satisfying. I feel her passion now more than ever. It's not just sexual, but more rounded out, more complete.

We also had the penis talk. As much as I knew it would be difficult to admit, I told her I wasn't going to have a mediocre penis just to say I had one, if it meant not feeling anything. She understood, but still thinks there's a possible procedure out there that could give me what I want. And she assured me that being a man isn't about having a penis, and that she, herself, doesn't need her man to have one, that that's not what she wants a man for.

I wasn't sure what to say. I felt afraid to ask if she was sure, but I did anyway. She was speaking from the heart the words I wanted to hear. I knew then that I didn't have to be afraid of being less than a man in her eyes. And I knew that my own attitudes and feelings about my manhood could work, that I could be all that I am and not having the perfect penis wasn't going to make me any less of a man.

My concern, I told her, is with passing.

Other things we talked about: sex, hair, sex drive, body shape, changes/growth timeline, hormones, meeting her mom -- her dad doesn't have to ever know.

January 8, 1996

I called the therapist. She called me back, and I told her I wanted to work with her under the condition that I would get the referral letter to the endocrinologist in due haste. [Note: testosterone therapy cannot begin with a doctor until a diagnosis of Gender Identity Disorder has been made by a psychotherapist.]

She said she could probably sign off on me in two or three sessions. I'm so relieved, I can't even begin to express it. I'm so close now I can hardly wait. I have my first appointment with her on Friday, then another one the following Tuesday and the third on the next Tuesday. Then I can have the letter in my hand.

In either case, I'm that much closer to living my life the way it was meant to be. What a thing to have had to wait this long to live, to really live.

February 28, 1996

It's windy out tonight. And I have little to no excuse(s) for not writing except for the fact that things are very, very fucked up right now.

Since I last wrote, I got the letter from the therapist and had my first appointment with the endocrinologist (February 2). It went okay, for the most part. An intern sat in on the meeting. I explained to him as best I could that I am transsexual, and not lesbian. He took me into an examination room and checked me out. He seemed genuinely relieved that he didn't have to give me a Pap smear, as I had had one at the health center last month.

We went back into his office, and he said he'd want to see me in "two, three, or four weeks to see if you still want to continue down this road." I was crestfallen. I looked at him like, whatever, but thanked him profusely, took the form out to the receptionist, and made another appointment. Then I went to the lab and waited for my name to be called to have blood drawn.

The next few weeks are a blur, really. I called F. over the following weekend and learned that she had told her friend S. about me, but it was as a result of him asking her whether she'd be willing to marry his boyfriend from China in order to get the boyfriend a visa to live here. I hit the roof. If I were a genetic guy, I said, he never would have asked you that.

I realized then that I had to ask her to marry me, only so I would know that I could do it and that it would mean something. Up until that point, I had every intention of asking her when I felt I was really passing as male and felt more myself as a result. I even fantasized that I would have a full beard at the time, the ultimate proof that this was not about either of us being lesbian, that no one would ever mistake me for a lesbian or a woman.

March 1, 1996

I had another appointment with the endocrinologist today, and it went well. I am on the Androderm testosterone patch. And so far, I don't feel that much different,

March 6, 1996

I broke my toe yesterday. It was really just a stupid spaz thing to do, but it kind of falls in with all the other spazzy things I've been doing lately.

I snagged my toes on some laundry as I was stepping through my bedroom -- so my foot moved but my toe was held firm by the demon laundry. I just shrugged it off as a stub. Later in the morning, when I got to the office, I took off my boot and sock and there was the toe next to my middle toe all purplish-maroon and swollen. Ice, tape, and elevation -- it's a little sore but fine.

Yesterday I put on patch number five at 2 p.m.

So far, I haven't noticed any significant changes really. My voice is a little "bigger" and I think this cold/cough is masking some of it. Hard to tell. It's so subtle.

My face has gotten noticeably oilier. I refilled my script for Cleocin. I'm glad I had enough smarts to see a dermatologist before I started on the testosterone. My back, neck, and forehead are breaking out because of the hormones. I'm trying to be extra aware of keeping my hands from my face. This afternoon, I was washing my face at the office and as I dried off I dabbed my chin and it hit me: my chin is different. Squarer and more pronounced. I was a bit taken aback. It's happening! I was amazed and a little freaked out by it, not because I don't want it to happen, but because it's so soon.

I called W. and he seemed perplexed that the voice should be the first to change. I think he thought it was just wishful thinking on my part. He said he couldn't tell over the phone. "It is subtle," I said.

My period is late.

March 9, 1996

I JO'd several times last night to fall asleep. Though I can't touch myself directly -- too sensitive. Today, I felt groggy, but got up and did a few things, then went back and JO'd again. And fell asleep. When I woke I did it again. I finally got out of bed a little while ago, but I'm feeling kind of good about the fact that I'm enjoying my new and improved sex drive.

March 16, 1996

Work-related stuff feels better. I talked to my manager yesterday. I think it'll be okay. But I do have to get my shit together soon. Physical stuff: my period ended Thursday night, but this morning I have brownish mucus discharge. Like it's back again. I put in a tampon a couple of hours ago. I've been doing wall pushups the last few days, 50 at a time. My voice is still not really noticeable. But right now I'm singing and it's totally out of tune with the song; it's embarrassing.

I want to be happy, but I'm tired of waiting. I think the process should be enjoyable, but I want more. All I can do is look forward to when I'll have noticeably changed and not just be in the now. Outwardly, I'm not the person I am inside. And people don't look at me the way I see myself. I guess if I think I'm not definable, then that's how people are going to see me too.

March 31, 1996

The idea that this is about privilege may not be that far off. As a woman, I expected to get treated like shit, but didn't like it and didn't really fight much against it. Now I can't stand it. And won't stand for it.

April 3, 1996

Yesterday I got to the point where my heart was pounding in my chest. I just called the endocrinologist's office and they were saying "classic stress symptoms." Okay, I admit it, I feel like an idiot. Anyway, I took off the patch and will put it on later today. And oh! I'm getting upper lip hair! I'm so excited! It started with a few at the left corner of my mouth, three dark hairs. Now, there are more and they're creeping up toward the top of my lip. I'm going to shave again today. I actually have about 10 hairs that I can see -- I know it sounds so lame, but I never had that before.

April 13, 1996

I worry that F. is growing impatient. Sometimes I fear that she will find all of this too hard to take, too much to be in, and leave me for another. I worry that I will fall out of love with her as I worry that she will fall in love with someone else. I worry that I will have to fight for her love every day of my life. I worry that I will not be enough for her.

April 15, 1996

Went out last night and it was weird. I hated it. I was alone in a club full of lesbians knowing that I could only look at them and see what I never was. Little baby butch dykes bother the shit out of me with all that phony posturing. I wonder what I will be like once I really start passing. Will I be an ultimate asshole about lesbians? I don't know, maybe I'm just jealous of something I could never be -- a real lesbian. I know I'm jealous of something else I can't be: a genetically equipped man. So what's left for me? I need to feel confident that I'm worth something. I need to start changing. Damn it, why is it taking so long? Who really sees me as a man yet? I don't think anyone does, not even myself.

The night was a waste. I tried to use the men's room but the door was locked. I went into the women's room and there were three women in there, not peeing, just talking. One was tall, wearing a black dress. They were talking about the band and Josie and the Pussycats and how they must have been lesbians and started laughing like that was so original and funny. I felt awkward being there, listening to them, like I was a spy. The tall one in the dress was so obviously into the dyke sitting down -- the bathroom attendant. If I'd had my druthers I would've tipped the attendant and then told the others my tip for them would be that the old "blank must have been lesbians, hee hee" was neither original nor witty. But I wasn't in the mood. I just got annoyed with myself for thinking such things and realized I needed to stop using the women's room. I thought about going to Lansdowne Street on the way home, but realized it was because I knew it was early and I wanted to get drunk. Instead, I ate an entire package of Smart Dogs and two onion rolls and went to bed.

April 21, 1996

Had coffee and a slice of cold pizza for breakfast. I'm growing and growing. Fat or muscle? It's a tossup. I opened my windows and know that will not help when it reaches 80 degrees today. I need to go do laundry and get my hair cut. I need to get in shape. I've gained a lot of weight (15 pounds in six weeks, fat ass!); up to size 34 jeans and even they don't really fit right. The endocrinologist upped my dose to two patches every other day starting tomorrow and continuing until May 20, when I'll go to two patches daily. I was supposed to start at the gym this weekend, but I was too depressed. I went shopping instead and bought shirts, shoes, and a jacket for spring. Not that I'll be able to wear it now that it's 80 degrees, but I needed it. I'm up a shirt size.

I got a letter from my sister after not talking to her for a long time. She told me Mom was sick. I called my parents -- Mom is now better, free of cancer. They noticed my voice had changed. I came out to my sister over the phone and wrote my brother an e-mail. He e-mailed back. Both my brother and sister seemed to have the attitude: fine, let's move on. My sister's supportive and willing to help in coming out to my parents. I'm not sure what to do.

May 24, 1996

F.'s being here this past weekend was really nice. I was worried that in the heat we would get on each other's nerves, but she is so soothing and calming. I can't explain it. I really enjoyed our time together, and I guess it made me less worried about the future.

June 8, 1996

I sent my parents separate letters telling them what's going on. So they know now. So far they seem pretty accepting. I met F.'s mom and according to F., she likes me. I miss F. more than anything. I just want to see her, but I have to wait. She's moving to Boston -- and moving in with me -- next month. There's so much to do.

June 27, 1996

It's been over a month since I've written. And what's prompting me now? Despondency again. I'm on the eve of my period, which I hope will be my last. It should hit sometime in the next three days, on the full moon or just before.

Little things about how the world sees me put me right back in the no-good place. Got "she'd" today in the South End. And "she'd" at the hardware store yesterday. Overheard boy-or-girl questions twice today. I'm in that place where I don't even want to go out or do anything. I don't even want to go to the gym because I feel like shit. But once F.'s here, she wants to go with me. So, will I join her there? Will I feel comfortable? Probably not. And with all those musclebound guys, I will look like a wimp and they will be checking her out, and even if she ignores them, they'll try even harder and I'll have to see all of this in front of my face and either ignore it or stand there and act all overprotective of her. I don't want that. I want the vibe to be there that hey, we are together, so back off. That is so stupid. But my insecurity is really looming again. I'm just insecure about not passing and having other guys messing with her and with me.

July 29, 1996

I've decided my voice is going to end up lower than most guys'. I listen to news reporters or "talent" on radio commercials and think, "What a wimpy, whiny voice." The only thing "male" about their voices is the resonance. But the pitch of most is relatively midrange or even high. It's sometimes funny to listen to the voices I used to just lump together as "male" but now I'm putting them in different ranges. Some are really higher than mine.

August 3, 1996

We're heading to L.'s for a BBQ. It's one of his social events for the support-group folks, and I'm trying to get out more so F. can have some semblance of a social life with me and have it not be too stressful.

Yesterday I went to see the endocrinologist. F. went with me. The registration moron, who had magazine pages of hunky black men pinned all over her cubicle, gave me a hard time about changing my name in the computer. So I asked to just change X., my girl name, to my first two initials. She said she couldn't. So I asked her to get her supervisor on the phone. I went into the waiting area while she did this. Then she came in and announced to the entire waiting area that I can use my initials as an alias or nickname but that X. has to stay on the computer.

I stood up and went right up to her and ushered her into the other room and said, "You could have talked to me in here and not announced it to the entire waiting room." The supervisor was still on the phone, so I talked to her and told her that I want the initials on the computer now and I did not appreciate that fact that her staff had announced to the entire room what was going on. She assured me it would be taken care of, "sir." And then I went back to the waiting room and some bitch with her husband was staring at me, so I finally looked her right in the eye and said, "Is there a problem?" and she looked away. F. tried to calm me down but I was furious.

The endocrinologist had an intern sit in. She was in her 30s, I think, older than me, and seemed nervous about the whole thing. F. and I had tons of questions for the doctor. He asked about the patch and we spent some time going over the pros and cons of sticking with it. And then we talked about shots. He examined me and made a big deal about my breast lump. He finally ordered blood work and said I would be coming in every other week for shots and it would take a while to figure out what dose to go on. I asked about learning to do my own shots and he said it would probably take four to five months before my dose would be figured out. Then I would do my own shots once I had a stable dose. (Argh!)

September 15, 1996

My voice has changed a bit. Cracking, and all that. Being "sirred" on the phone. Lately, I've been passing more in public. But there are still those days when I get "ma'amed" but I'm not sure I'm hearing it right. On Wednesday morning, it was trash day, so I brought down our garbage and outside was the landlord -- who didn't recognize me. And I was like, well, I guess I should tell him what's up. So I said I had changed my name and that the next rent check will have the new name on it.

To say that every day I think about passing is putting it too simply. There is a lack of elegance in moving so deliberately. Everything is broken down into the tiniest details. A certain way of walking, a certain way of holding my head, moving my arms, how I step off a curb, the length of my stride, where I look, and who is looking back at me and how. It's nerve-racking, yet important and necessary.

I am hairier than I was on my legs, my stomach, and it's creeping up toward my chest. Also, my arms and hands, my knuckles -- I've even got hair on my toes. My upper lip is still sparse, but a definite crop of dark hair is there, and stubbly when I don't shave. The rest of my face is still soft, smooth, with fair stubble when it comes through. But in comparison with others, I am behind. I am not where a 30-year-old genetic man would be, I am not where a 23-year-old man would be. I might be where a 16-year-old would be. Maybe. But that's not a manly look. It's male or male-ish, and definitely not feminine, but I'm not there yet. The few dark hairs on my upper lip are a big deal to me, since I never had a single dark hair on my face at all. But in the world of men, it's pathetic.

I'm so angry that F. is stuck with me at this point where I don't pass and I can't even promise when it will be better, I just hope that it will be. Every day it's one more day of less than living. I don't know what to do. It's frustrating and I get worried, afraid. I worry that at some point she will have had enough and leave me. That someone will tell her this is wrong and she will agree with them that I have drained her of too much and that she still can't live with me like this.

October 5, 1996

F. just left to visit her parents. I was supposed to go with her, primarily because her dad wouldn't be there. But he decided not to go out of town so I just stayed here. This is probably the weekend that F. tells her dad about me. It's been really unclear to me what he does and doesn't know. But I just learned this week that he thinks F. moved in with her girlfriend! It wasn't F. who told him this. It's the absence of information that led to him think that. He knew of me as "X." and that I was in Boston and that F. was moving to Boston, so 2 + 2 = lesbian to him. Whatever. I never met the guy but I would like to think he's not completely unreasonable -- he just needs to be told so he can deal with it and get over it.

I got my name legally changed yesterday and spent the morning at the Registry of Motor Vehicles to get a new ID. Then I went to Social Security and the bank. Suffice it to say, it was a long day. The court thing was so easy it was unreal. The RMV sucked but I got the "M" on my license! Social Security couldn't change the gender in their records without documentation of surgery. But since no one from outside Social Security can see it, that's fine for now. The bank was easy, too, and the bank customer-service gal was very interested in knowing how involved a process it is to change. She was the only one who asked me anything. Kind of interesting.

When I got back to the office they had sparkling cider and we all had a glass, and I gave myself a toast: "To me!" I thanked them all for putting up with me for the past nine-and-a-half months. It was like a pregnancy and out popped me! At this point, the idea that there's a place for me in the queer community at all is a joke. Even the bank gal asked me, "So, do you like men or women?" I told her it was a personal question but that gender identity had nothing to do with sexual orientation so you can get all kinds of combinations. I also told her that someday she'd see me come in the door with my wife to open a joint account. Sometimes I'm perceived as a very masculine-looking woman (argh!) and it's automatically assumed I'm a lesbian. Other times I'm perceived to be a very fey guy and it's automatically assumed that I must be gay. At what point will I just be seen as a regular guy?

I shaved my chest and stomach to see if the hair would grow back in darker. Right now it's dark stubble on my stomach, and not much on my upper chest at all. I thought it was worth a try. I talked to J. about the pump. He said he would get me some information about it. I swear my little cock is growing quite a bit lately. Either that or I'm getting spontaneous hard-ons all the time. It's usually in the morning that I put my hand down there and go, Yikes! it's perky this morning. So, if the pump works at all, I'll try it, and see if I can get some inch-age out of it. It'll probably be a few years before I even consider bottom surgery, but if I do get anything it'll be the metoidioplasty and the implants. So I might as well start trying to get bigger for it. As far as chest surgery goes, I need to save money, period.

April 12, 1997

Did my first shot by myself yesterday. G. sent me a JPEG of someone's chest -- it's a three-quarters profile shot but looks good. No huge scars. Evidence that what I thought was possible is possible with the right surgeon who understands the technique I have in mind.

My facial hair seems to be coming in. Sparse, though. At the edge of my chin it's definitely whiskers, along the jawline and up to the sideburns -- they're dark. Not much, but at least something. I shave every other day. The hairs look more blond than dark but it's definitely no longer fuzz.

I'm still waiting to hear back from a surgeon I'm considering for the chest operation. I need to ask him when I can do it and how long I need to wear a compression vest -- in other words, I'd like a sense of how long until I can live like a normal guy.

May 7, 1997

I have a consultation with another surgeon today at 3 p.m. I'm strangely calm about it. I have a good feeling about it based on my conversation with the intake receptionist.

I had blood work last Friday to check my [hormone] levels, and I might know as soon as Friday. Last time my levels were checked was in January and the evil estrogen was up around 220. [Note: a genetic male has levels between zero and 25; a genetic, premenopausal woman has levels between 100 and 600.]

Lately I've had hot flashes and felt cold toward the end of my testosterone shot cycle -- and irritable. The acne has also remained fairly constant/consistent with occasional flare-ups. So right now I'm taking a new antibiotic. Yet another surgeon said she wouldn't be able to do the procedure until my acne clears up. I have a consult with another surgeon next week. And the following week I'll interview with another one.

May 24, 1997

Summer is here, at least it feels that way. I don't feel very good about it, though. If I have to spend another summer bound up with multiple shirts on, I don't know what I'll do. I have to get my chest done.

I'm glad, in a way, that I've had this time of unemployment to deal with all of this. It's almost a full-time job getting all this shit together and keeping on top of day-to-day stuff. Who do I trust to do this [surgery]? There's skill, and then there's the impression that they really understand what I want. I know enough to know what's possible and that scars are unacceptable, period.

One surgeon showed me pictures with vertical scars that just screamed "breast reduction" to me. And that's not what I want. I want a male-looking chest, not just a reduction. Idiot. I've decided to go with the surgeon who actually said: "We want you to be happy with the results." No one else said that. They all told me what they were going to do and would not even take my questions or concerns into account.

June 2, 1997

Surgery is scheduled for the 10th, kind of a birthday present to myself. F. will take some days off from work to spend with me, but I'm not sure how long it will be before I can fend for myself.

I have tried to make preparations and not worry too much. My parents are freaking out, and my dad did say something about how it scares him to think of one of his children having surgery, any surgery.

July 15, 1997

The operation was June 10. I slept without need of painkillers, but I was really hunched-over the following day. It hurt like hell to get up out of bed to go to the bathroom. Like a searing, burning pain in my sides. Once I had the drains removed (that was what hurt the most) I felt a lot better. Black and blue still in some spots, and numb all around the chest. But my ribs are still sore.

F. took such good care of me. I don't really remember much from the first few days, only that I slept sitting up and drank a lot of iced tea and ate soup and slept. The doctor said it will take a good two weeks after surgery before I can really move around much. I still can't sleep very well, my sides ache, and I can't lift my arms without pain.

Now that I've had the surgery done I think about getting back to the gym, but also worry about doing too much too soon. The idea of freelancing for a living is no longer appealing. I think I can do it, but do I want to? Now that I can go out and get a job in the world and feel comfortable as me, why would I want to freelance and stay cooped up at home all the time?

July 29, 1997

Met with my sister and brother this past week. God, I haven't seen my brother in years, and there we were dressed almost identically. Unplanned and bizarre. Same haircut, too. Freaky. So we do look like brothers, very similar. Except he's gotten a bit chubby. And my sister being pregnant, with her belly, and then me. I thought I had filled out, but I look like a stick next to them.

My brother and his wife seem very accepting, which is really nice. Almost an attitude of "Of course this is what was expected." One less thing to worry about.

September 1997

Being accepted as a man at work is a great relief. At times it's thrilling just to hear "he" when someone refers to me. It's such a simple thing, but it means so much. It's what this has been all about, being seen as the person I feel I am. No questions. Finally getting to be something I don't need to worry about.

I was worried that sexist comments or the kind of locker-room talk I imagined from other guys would be something I'd have to navigate, but there really isn't much of that. And the women I work with seem to be okay with me too. To them, I'm just another guy they work with, and there isn't much else to say.

October 1997

Since the surgery I still don't feel 100 percent. Not as strong as I'd like to be. And the acne, because of the hormones, is still a problem. It's so ironic that before I was on testosterone I didn't really think of acne as the reason I wouldn't take off my shirt in public. Now, I'd really like to go swimming, and it's not my chest that's the problem (my chest looks fine, there are no scars and it's a very male chest complete with hair) -- it's the acne on my shoulders and back that makes me not want to go shirtless in public. Stupid, but true.

I think about how many people just take who they are for granted. I try not to get all sucked into self-pity, but I really wonder how many people in my life understand that for over 30 years I have just existed, and now I'm finally able to be me, and really live.

I think about lower surgery every time I get undressed. Not so much for sex, or aesthetics, or even to pee standing up (so important to others, I have discovered), but for convenience really. The pants stuffer I have to wear is fine but it's not exactly complete. I have been taking antidepressants since August, diagnosed with mild depression, but I don't feel depressed. Just a lack of patience. All I have been doing for the past two years is trying to get my life where it should be. And here I am, but I'm still not "done," not just to me but also in so many people's eyes.

I have my birth certificate (changed after I sent along the letter of my "irreversible gender change surgery"), and it is some consolation -- F. and I can legally marry now. But, as H. says, we'll never be genetic. I know that and have always known that. I try not to think it's all about my genitalia. A lot of times I just don't think about it, but then I think of the things I can't do. Yes, I'm further along than I was two years ago, or even a year ago. But still . . .

Anonymous is a female-to-male transsexual living in Boston.

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